The US Supreme Court has dealt a significant blow to House Democrats' efforts to have access to secret grand jury material from Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying it would decide next term whether Congress is authorised to see the material.
It means the House Judiciary Committee cannot have access to the material before the election. A lower court ruled this spring the committee was entitled to see the previously withheld material from the Mueller probe, which also investigated whether President Donald Trump obstructed the special counsel's work.
It is unlikely there could be a Supreme Court decision even before the end of the current congressional term in January.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco had told the Supreme Court it should decide for itself the "significant separation of powers" issues raised in the case. Despite the decision of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, Congress has no need for the information, Mr Francisco wrote in a brief to the court.
"The House already has impeached the president, the Senate already has acquitted him, and neither [the committee] nor the House has provided any indication that a second impeachment is imminent," he wrote.
Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said he was disappointed by the court's decision, adding Attorney General William Barr had reversed long-standing Department of Justice practice in opposing the release of the material.
"Unfortunately, President Trump and Attorney General Barr are continuing to try to run out the clock on any and all accountability," Mr Nadler said.
"While I am confident their legal arguments will fail, it is now all the more important for the American people to hold the president accountable at the ballot box in November."
House General Counsel Douglas Letter had told the court the withheld material "remains central to the committee's ongoing investigation into the president's conduct," adding the committee's probe "did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial."
The House of Representatives went to court last July, before the formal start of its impeachment proceedings involving the president's alleged effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden.
Mr Mueller's report found insufficient evidence to conclude the Trump campaign conspired with Russia, and Mr Mueller neither exonerated nor accused Mr Trump of obstructing justice.
The Justice Department released a redacted version of Mr Mueller's report.